Markram’s stunning catch seals dramatic win for South Africa

South Africa outclassed the defending champs to remain unbeaten in Super 8s. (PC:

Captains usually don’t station themselves at long-off. They are somewhere near the non-striker’s end to converse with the bowlers. Aiden Markram doesn’t do that. He goes to long-off and long-on and converts what batters hope would be sixes into catches. International cricket and the Indian Premier League have seen many of those.

On a manic Friday at Gros Islet in St Lucia, Markram was actually at mid-off when South Africa began the last over in this Super Eights match against England. That was where he began a backward run, covered a fair amount of ground and flung himself to come off with a stunner of a catch, which lit up the T20 World Cup. Catches win matches is a cliché all right. It has not aged.

There were many highlights and potential turning points in a match that kept swinging from one way to the other. Markram’s stunner to send back Harry Brook was the deciding moment, which left things on tenterhooks in this group. South Africa are ahead with two wins from two, but nothing about semi-finalists is guaranteed because England and the West Indies also have a chance.

This was a contest between England’s batting depth and South Africa’s versatile bowling unit. Excellent fielding from both sides and a dropped catch added to the drama, before England attacked the best of South Africa’s bowlers and reached a position to seal the chase of 164 to win. Markram and his bowlers came back to defend 25 in the last three overs to snatch a seven-run win.

South Africa had the upper hand after 14 overs, with England at 87 for four. That’s when Brook (53 off 37) and Liam Livingstone (33 off 17) took on Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje. The former leaked 18 — after conceding 10 from his first two — before the latter went for 13. When Ottneil Baartman gifted 21 in a shocker of a 17th over featuring five full-tosses, it looked like game over.

This turned out to be a hard-earned win for South Africa, who failed to build on a strong start on a sluggish pitch. What they eventually got turned out to be enough, but from 84/1 after 10 overs they were hoping to get more. Quinton de Kock (65 off 38) put in another Player of the Match performance, which appeared to have set the platform for a match-winning total.

Some stupendous work by Jos Buttler brought England back. He flew like a goalkeeper high towards his left to pluck a one-handed blinder to send De Kock back. The second was an example of his presence of mind, as after collecting a wide one, he threw down the stumps at the non-striker’s end to catch Heinrich Klaasen off-guard. South Africa never regained the momentum despite David Miller’s 28-ball 43. Two more acrobatic catches in the last over added to their frustration.

England did not start well, and after losing the in-form Phil Salt in the second over, failed to cash in on a dropped catch by Klaasen, which gave Jonny Bairstow a second chance. South Africa took wickets at crucial junctures and kept tightening the screw before losing the plot for those three overs. Rabada started the comeback in the 18th, before his captain held the most important catch of the tournament so far.